Meredith Blevins. The Red Hot Empress
(2005) 351 pp.
By this time, Annie Szabo should know that when she goes along with
one of her mother-in-law’s [a Gypsy fortune-teller who operates in San
Francisco’s Chinatown] plans, trouble follows. Mina wants Jimmy’s picture
in The Eye, the tabloid where Annie works. Jimmy’s a toner, a person
who heals illness and cures them through chanting. If he can’t cure a person,
he is able to give them peace. The picture and the story attract too many
people who want to use the twelve-year-old boy for their own selfish purposes.
Flora, an Evangelical preacher, wants to use Jimmy to heal the sick in
her congregation so she can collect a fee. The CDC wants him when he is
older to help discover cures for diseases even though his method is outside
the box. The FBI wants him because they believe he can create biological
weapons. The Tongs want him to keep them in good health. When Jimmy’s uncle
is murdered, Mina kidnaps him and hands him over to Annie to protect, a
dangerous job because some assailants will kill to control Jimmy. Annie
devises a diabolical plan to make everyone think they are dead so she can
figure who the real villain of the piece is.